From the 11-plus to school rugby - memories of a Hartlepool lad

Steve Nicholson.
Steve Nicholson.

A Hartlepool man has shared his memories of school sport, memorable teachers and learning all about Gulliver’s Travels.

Steve Nicholson was a pupil of Galley’s Field School and will never forget it.

The Galley's Field under-15 rugby team of 1960, as Steve Nicholson remembers it.'Left to right:-  Back Row -   Brian Townsend,  Tony Medley,  Colin Byers,  Lol Judge,  Fred Peverley,  Jimmy Carter,  Ian Thane,  Eric Jacques'                          Front Row - Keith Faint,  ?  ?  David Slimmings,  John Sotheran[capt],  Steve Nicholson,  ?  Hughie Bell,  ?

The Galley's Field under-15 rugby team of 1960, as Steve Nicholson remembers it.'Left to right:- Back Row - Brian Townsend, Tony Medley, Colin Byers, Lol Judge, Fred Peverley, Jimmy Carter, Ian Thane, Eric Jacques' Front Row - Keith Faint, ? ? David Slimmings, John Sotheran[capt], Steve Nicholson, ? Hughie Bell, ?

How could he? It taught him much about life.

He remembered: “I entered the school in 1958 after failing the 11+.”

Who recalls the days when first year pupils had to go into school through the Ann Crookes building about 100 yards along the road from the main building near the Town Moor?

Steve added: “Ted Leadbitter (West Hartlepool councillor and future MP for the amalgamated town) was in charge, assisted by Mr Stevenson and Mr Soaper.

We travelled down to Graham Street for science with the brilliant Fred Peverley in a science lab - he gave me my love of physics - and next door for woodwork with the irascible Oddle Simmonds

Steve Nicholson

“Possibly because of his Welsh heritage he was a great speaker and reader. He read Gulliver’s Travels to us and explained the politics behind Johnathan Swift’s book – about Whigs and Tories.

“We travelled down to Graham Street for science with the brilliant Fred Peverley in a science lab – he gave me my love of physics – and next door for woodwork with the irascible Oddle Simmonds, where if you were seen misbehaving you would find a piece of wood flying at speed passing one ear.”

Steve played sport, namely soccer and rugby union.

“I was playing for the first year football team as goalkeeper. I shared the position with Adam Waller. (I was not very good).

“I switched to rugby coached by the great Lol Judge, assisted by Fred Peverley who was then playing for Hartlepool Rovers 1st XV.”

Fred might have been a keen player himself but he was just as adept as passing on his skills to a new generation of player.

“The school rugby teams performed with great success during these years, even beating Henry Smith Grammar School 23-9 in a match on the Old Friarage.

“Playing as a 14-year-old in an under-15 side was fantastic. Players in this side were John Sotheran, captain, what a great player he was, Jimmy Carter, Hughie Bell, Eric Jacques and Colin Byers.

“This was to serve me well as I was selected for Durham County under-15 side in 1962 and the skilful Jonny Dee gave me a pair of senior team socks.

“The headteacher in the first few years was Mr Kidd. He was known as Captain Kidd - after the pirate.

“I remember him removing one older boy from all lessons for reasons still unknown to me, and making him write out The Bible.”

Steve has plenty more memories to share with us and we will reveal those next week.

In the meantime, if you have your own topic of nostalgia to share with us, get in touch and tell us more.

Do it by emailing chris.cordner@jpress.co.uk